Saturday we made a trip out to Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream and did the tour there. It's worth doing. One of those things were there's a video showing how Ben and Jerry got started etc. You get to look in on the vats of ice cream, learn a little about the process. Interesting stuff and our tour guide was a fun and funky middle aged woman with the sort of ex-hippie laid-back attitude that befits Ben and Jerry's. Unfortunately, I wasn't thrilled with the flavor they had out as a free sample. One of those Cookies-and-Cream concoctions that many people just love. I find them overly sweet myself. But I seemed to be in the minority.
We then hit Cabot Cheese and tried a bunch of really tasty samples of cheese, crackers, condiments, dips. Went to a cider mill and got some free cider samples - delicious. Then hit Lake Champlain Chocolates for more freebees. Also bought some dark chocolate and some dark chocolate with hot pepper - really good.
Finally, we were able to get to Switchback Brewery for their tour. We were greeted by a guy in his twenties, dressed in jeans and a tee-shirt and a young girl eating an orange. The tour is a bare-bones look at the inner workings of a brewery. No videos, no frills. The guy, friendly and unassuming, just gave us a brief history of Switchback, took us through the brewing process, showed us how the brewery has been steadily expanding. Switchback makes one beer - Switchback Ale. You cannot get it in bottles, only on tap. It is sold regionally throughout Vermont and much of northeastern New York. However, they struggle to keep up with the demand. They have no intentions to ever sell it in bottles, though they are working on a Porter for the holidays. We ended the tour with some samples of the beer taken right from one of the big holding tanks. It is a very nicely balanced ale. Would make a terrific session beer.
Again, a very informative tour, but the highlight was the big bar with endless free samples. I sampled Lucky Kat IPA (very good ale, good hoppy bite), American Sour Ale (not my cup of tea - very strong lemony flavor. Reminded me of a European Shandy), Belgian Stout (liked it), a Black Lager (surprisingly good) and Roxie Rolles (loved it - nicely balanced ale).
Bought a Magic Hat pint glass with their "Night of the Living Dead" logo on it.
A Couple Other Brew Pubs
At 3 Needs, we had their Chocolate Porter (nice rich flavorful beer), and their IPA which was also good.
At American Flatiron their IPA was outstanding. Very strong hops with a nice bitter bite. We also tried their ZG Helles Cask Ale. A good session beer, but we should have had it before the IPA rather than after as it rather falls flat by comparison.
If you like good craft beers, it's hard to beat Burlington.